LYDIA WILLIAMS –
Wednesday night was special, watching on as the girls turned in a clinical performance against China PR at AAMI Park.
While I always prefer watching play from inside the box, I was lucky enough to celebrate one of my best friends’ wedding in North Carolina over the weekend, meaning I only arrived to camp just days before the opening match.
As such, I turned from player-to-supporter on the evening – it was nice to see Mackenzie Arnold hold her own against China’s strike power, and really direct our defensive shape from the box.
Equally, it was also a special moment to be there for Eliza Campbell’s debut as we welcomed our newest Matilda.
I remember how special that moment was for my family and friends when I wore the gloves for the first time, and knowing how hard Eliza has worked over the years through our emerging programs, I’m especially proud she was able to notch her first cap for the national team.
The onus is really now on me to continue their strong efforts and help Australia secure a clean sweep of the series.
And following a disappointing performance by China’s standards, I’m expecting nothing less than a fiery response from the visiting nation this Sunday afternoon.
Similar to many other Asian-based teams, the Chinese are very technical and skilful by foot; that’s something they have been brought up with from an early age.
So it’s always a dangerous sequence when they make a delivery into the box – so it’s important we’re all on guard when they send it forward.
Just on the series itself, I’ve been thrilled with the FFA’s decision to host a match in Geelong following what was a successful series against Brazil in Sydney and Newcastle in September.
It’s great to be taking our game to regional venues – it really is a great indicator for the growth of our game.
It is a chance to showcase ourselves and promote football, especially on the back of the men’s successful World Cup qualifying series against Honduras.
We already know that football is the most promoted and played sport for women in Australia, but I think the recent achievements from the men’s squad has really helped build momentum for us.
It’s almost as if the Socceroos have done their job, and now it’s our turn to take care of business.
That’s been the message inside the Matildas’ camp; to make sure Australia has two winning national teams they can celebrate and be proud of.
The vibe inside the group has been really strong; it’s quite funny, usually many of us are playing against each other either through the NWSL in America or back home here in the W-League. But when we are obviously in camp, then all of a sudden it’s about wearing the Australian jersey and putting aside those club rivalries!
At the present time, it’s also a critical time for the Matildas, with so much movement in the FIFA rankings – our long term goal has always been to crack into the top 3.
For so long it has always been about getting closer to that goal – now it’s becoming more about achieving it.
Every day it’s becoming more and more of a reality that we are improving as a world team on the back of consistency and high performing play.
It’s important to maintain a sharp focus, and to not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Hopefully we can back up our strong showing against China PR when we both meet again on Sunday night.